Working it Out

There is accumulating research evidence that exercise is good not only for physical health but also for mental health. Exercise is a great intervention for depression and anxiety, and can also boost brainpower! It seems that cardiovascular exercise can create increased cerebral blood flow and brain connections, resulting in improvements in executive functioning tasks like planning, memory, and multitasking (http://www.apa.org/monitor/2010/06/exercise.aspx)

What does this evidence have to do with writing a novel? I’ve found that WALKING is the best remedy for any difficulties I’m having with the plot or characters. If I’m not sure about the next direction to take in my story, I’ll strap on the iPod and hit the neighborhood for about sixty minutes of brisk walking and voila! I’ve usually come up with a creative idea in the process.

There’s something about repetitive cardiovascular activity that helps us work out problems while working out. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/24/AR2010052402608.html?referrer=emailarticle).

I’ve been a competitive swimmer all my life, but swimming in a pool usually involves too much thought (including switching strokes, hitting the walls right on my flip turns, keeping pace, and trying to avoid careening into my fellow lane-mates) for the writing problem-solving I’m seeking. Open-water swimming would probably work better. But I know that walking really does the trick. And, once I heal my bum hip/lower back, slow jogging can also work it out.

If you are a writer, what helps you solve problems? Or, in other performances like job, school, and relationships, what helps you “work it out”?

6 thoughts on “Working it Out”

  1. I wholeheartedly agree about repetitive exercise! (Where I come from, though, walking outdoors requires a lot of concentration – you have to focus on clinging to your house keys, thumb poised on the pepper spray. And making sure that that dodgy guy isn't following you. And the next dodgy guy. Then the dodgy women. And that dark car. Oh and making sure that you don't fall into any potholes / excavations.:)Sometimes sleeping on a problem helps! Or talking it out with people whose opinion you value.


  2. I'm a big fan of talking out my problems, Janine! Sounds like a good basis for a career . . .Who needs exercise when you're constantly on edge, worried about becoming the victim of a crime? Anxiety can burn a lot of calories!


  3. I left out the most important thing! Praying – about the problem and for wisdom / guidance.(There's of course no point in worrying about crime, which is something you can't control. You just have to be vigilant and not put yourself in risky situations 🙂


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